The Protestant Reformation Recounted through Numismatics

Throughout the first half of the second millennium, the dominant ecclesiastic aspect in the Holy Roman Empire was the papacy and the Catholic Church, with the Holy Roman Emperor himself regarded as the “primus inter pares,” or first among equals with respect to the other Catholic monarchs in Europe. The dominance of Catholicism was questioned at times, though it was Martin Luther, a German priest and theologian, who gained the first real ground. His opposition was aided by Gutenberg’s printing press, which allowed for more rapid dissemination of the printed word. Luther’s dissent of the perceived errors and abuses within the Catholic Church began with his issuance of the Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg in 1517. From there, his criticisms and teachings spread seemingly like wildfire throughout the empire and beyond. Luther, however, was just the beginning, as theologians in other cities and regions would follow suit in furthering protest against the Catholic Church (hence the basis for the terminology as the Protestant Reformation). Individuals such as Huldrych Zwingli, Philip Melanchton, and John Calvin all played vital roles in the Reformation’s spread, with each of them treated as leading figures in the movement. Along with the important theologians, dates themselves became much celebrated in later centuries, with the centennials of not just Luther’s posting of the Ninety-Five Theses (1517), but the Augsburg Confession (1530) as well, drawing much fanfare.
Not surprisingly, given the monumental nature of this movement, numismatics features countless representations of the figures and iconography associated with it, with many such pieces coinciding with dates important to the Reformation. Our upcoming annual auction held in conjunction with the 2023 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) will feature a number of coins and medals associated with this religious movement, with representatives from the Augustana Collection constituting the lion’s share. Commemorations of the centennials following 1517 and 1530 present a great collecting opportunity both to expert and novice, with issues in both gold and silver. As such, we expect that this highly interesting array to be well received and hotly contested given its historical importance.
To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.
We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future auctions, and are currently accepting submissions for our Spring 2023 Hong Kong auction and our August 2023 Global Showcase auction. Additionally, we are accepting submissions for our Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auctions, the next of which will be held in February 2023, and the next for which we are accepting submissions will be in May 2023. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.

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